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Driving in Bulgaria Factfile

This, the most recent Quest Bulgaria Members Factfile, contains everything you need to know about driving in Bulgaria: taking the driving test, exchanging your licence and even how to buy or sell a second hand car. The factfile covers driving rules and regulations, together with tips and hints on which government departments and other bodies to contact regarding driving licences, car purchases and getting your vehicle through the roadworthiness test . Essential reading for those driving and owning a vehicle in Bulgaria.

Driving rules and regs
Drivers must be 18 years old (except for mopeds, where drivers may be 16) and be in possession of a valid driving licence.
Those coming from another EU country may drive on a valid national driving licence from their own country.
Drive on the right.
Seatbelts are compulsory, including back seat passengers if seat belts are fitted. Children under 12 are not allowed to travel in front seats.
Headlights are now compulsory all year round.
Snow chains may be mandatory in some areas during winter.
You may only use a mobile via a handsfree system.
Third party insurance is compulsory.

When travelling it is mandatory to carry with you, or have displayed, in the car: valid licence, personal identity, vehicle registration papers, insurance, roadworthiness cert, vignette sticker, red warning triangle, reflective vest, first aid kit and a fire extinguisher. If you do not have all the papers and items with you and are stopped by the police, this will result in a fine.

Note : Personal identity. Your long term residents permit is not identity, it is just proof that you have the right to reside in the country long term. Therefore, you should carry your passport if you do not have a Bulgarian driving licence as proof of identity.

Speed limits are : 50 km/h in built up areas, 90 km/h on other roads, 130 km/h on motorways.

Drinking and driving
Blood alcohol limit is .5 grammes of alcohol per litre of blood. The police may stop you at any time to carry out a random alcohol test. If you are over the limit, fines are applied according to the level of alcohol and your driving licence may be confiscated.

Note: If you have a licence taken away which was issued by a country other than Bulgaria, then you may have to take a driving test in Bulgaria in order for a new licence to be issued.

Vignette (or road tax)
This must be purchased and stuck onto your windscreen if you wish to travel outside any urban area. You can buy it for a week, month or a year. It is available at petrol stations and post offices. When entering the country you should buy your vignette at the border.

Note: If you buy a vignette for a year, it runs the calendar year. Thus, if you are in need of one in the latter part of the year, it may be more economical to purchase monthly

Vehicle tax
All vehicles are levied with a tax which is dependent upon the age of the vehicle and the size of engine. This annual tax is paid at the Taxes and Fees Office.

Eco tax
Car owners pay an eco tax, again dependent on the age of the car.

Accident or breakdown
If you are unfortunate enough to have an accident or your vehicle breaks down you should telephone 112. Be aware, that if you need to make an insurance claim, many Bulgarian insurance companies insist that you present your claim within seven days, so check your policy.

Driving on an EU licence
You may drive in Bulgaria on an EU licence. For your own peace of mind, your licence should be accompanied by a certified Bulgarian translation if it is not an international drivers licence. An EU licence is valid indefinitely in Bulgaria, within the confines of its own expiry date. There is no mandatory requirement to exchange it for a Bulgarian one.

If, because you are resident in Bulgaria, you decide to exchange your EU licence for a Bulgarian one, you do not have to sit the driving test again. However, you may be asked to pass a medical and even attend a first aid course. If you lose your EU licence, or it is stolen, you should not be asked to sit your test again. A replacement Bulgarian licence should be issued to you, although, again you may be required to pass a medical test.